Organizing in Chicago for Stop and Frisk Transparency

Organizing in Chicago for Stop and Frisk Transparency

July 30, 2015
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Caption: Photo of #ChiStops Intern Gillian Giles by Debbie Southorn, via twitter (@madlittledebbie)

Yesterday morning in Chicago City Hall, We Charge Genocide and Chicago Votes held a press conference introducing a new effort to record and disseminate information about Stop and Frisk in Chicago: The Stops, Transparency, Oversight, and Protection (STOP) Act. The ordinance is being sponsored by Aldermen Roderick T. Sawyer (6th Ward), Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st Ward), and Roberto Maldonado (26th Ward). We Charge Genocide (WCG) argues that public access to data is needed to evaluate whether stop and frisk is being used fairly and effectively in Chicago and to prevent racial profiling of youth of color, and particularly Black youth.

In March of this year, a report by the ACLU of Illinois found that Chicagoans were stopped at four times the rate of New Yorkers during the height of stops and frisks by NYPD. In the summer of 2014, CPD conducted more than 250,000 stops that did not result in arrests. Significantly, 72% of the stops were of Black residents, though Chicago is only 32% Black. Furthermore, the ACLU’s review of a random sample of CPD contact cards found that officers’ justifications for the stops did not meet legal standards of reasonable suspicion fully half of the time, raising concerns about rampant Fourth Amendment violations similar to those found in NYPD’s stop and frisk practices.  We Charge Genocide and Chicago Votes are emphasizing the collective experience of intimidation, harassment, and fear that comes from unjustified street stops and how these practices erode trust between police and community members.

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Caption: Caleb Porter, Chicago Votes member, says that he was first stopped and handcuffed by police at age 13, an experience he calls “terrifying”. Photo by The Chicago Reporter, via twitter (@ChicagoReporter, link)

The STOP Act would require documentation of all stops, frisks, and other searches conducted by CPD. Data collected would include the person’s perceived race, age, gender, and the location of and reason for the stop. In addition to demographic information about the individual persons stopped, CPD officers would be required to record whether any frisk or more extensive search took place, and if so, the specific legal justification for the frisk and/or search. Records would also include whether any force was used in the stop, and any outcome of the stop such as whether contraband was found and/or whether a warning, ticket, or arrest took place. The STOP Act would further require CPD to release all this information publicly in quarterly reports.

People stopped by CPD would receive a receipt with the name and badge number of any officers involved. In addition, when a CPD officer claims that a search was conducted pursuant to consent of the person stopped, the STOP Act requires written documentation of that consent. These recommendations, like the public disclosure of demographic data, comes straight out of the Final Report of The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing released this past May.

A pending state bill, SB1304, would require police departments across the state to document investigatory stops that led to frisks, searches, tickets, or arrests, but not mere stops. The state law would also require police departments to submit their stop and frisk data to the Illinois Department of Transportation, which would release reports annually to the Governor, the General Assembly, the Profiling Prevention and Data Oversight Board, and law enforcement agencies once annually. SB1304 was passed by both houses in May 2015 and sent to Governor Rauner on June 26th, but has not yet been signed into law.

We Charge Genocide members and leaders of the #ChiStops campaign, Page May and Malcolm London, have been conducting teach-ins with young people throughout the summer. Reaching mostly high school students, their goal is to foster a youth-led effort to end Stop and Frisk in Chicago. On August 9th, #ChiStops will host a Speak-Out Against Stop & Frisk and Police Violence. Chicago Votes youth members have been canvassing community events to talk to people about Stop & Frisk and have collected more than 2,000 comment cards in favor of the STOP Act. They are hosting a Forum on Police Accountability today, Thursday, July 30th in Back of the Yards.

As of today, 35 community organizations have signed on to support the ordinance, including Black Lives Matter – Chicago, BYP 100, First Defense Legal Aid, and the National Lawyers Guild of Chicago.

The full text of the proposed ordinance can be found here. WCG’s fact sheet is also available on their website.

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